tag : bright yellow-green apples: Healthy religion through eating well

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Healthy religion through eating well

Figure 9.10 more salt needed?

We were graced with a former president of the Methodist Conference at chapel today, who talked in terms of the importance of food as a central locus for our community and relationally focused faith. He noted, most interestingly, that the only time Jesus gave any ritual or liturgical instruction as such was in telling his followers to eat food and drink together, and to remember him with them in doing so. The pattern was set in him being with others, eating along side them - the very most basic, and thus most potent, lived act. Which also gave it a latent potential for subverting the status quo.

I was writing a letter in the front room this evening, with the rest of the family watching Michael Palin doing his thing in the Himalayas. At one point in their climb through the mountains he was eating together with his guides round a campfire, and they stopped before starting. He practiced a prior act with them, which involved offering the food to the divine, to the Buddha, and to all people by waving a drop out into the air from his finger.

What am I thinking as I sit here, still absorbing these threads as they weave together at the end of the day? Well, maybe a sacred nexus can be spun around the eating of food together, that has potential to connect with us all in the most liberating way. Not least because eating is the preserve of everyone on the planet, is not brought out of religious communities, but is an act of encounter. How do so many Jewish people across the world still actively celebrate their narrative of liberation and freedom? They gather round tables and eat. How do many Christians across the world still actively celebrate their narrative of liberation and freedom? They gather round tables and eat. This needs taking out of single events into our yearly and weekly lives respectively, to carry that charge of holiness through our front rooms and park benches. And I think the earthy act of the trekking guides offers a little model from which we might be able to practice more ad hoc ‘food religion’. I know the sensory stimulation involved makes the sacred that bit more tangible, more earthed. And little everyday rituals could help along this way of encountering together.

Someone say “Pharisee!”, I’ll just say grace.

Related thoughts can be seen here: link, link, link.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was your preacher's name Inderjit by any chance? And did he mention lentils? (If so, it confirms the rumour that he recycles material!)


1:47 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

You're right on both counts - looks like they were understating in the notice sheet when they said he's talking on one of his favourite subjects, if you got the very same stuff!

5:11 PM  
Blogger ash said...

you may be relieved, or, knowing you, disappointed to hear that i won't be calling you a pharisee on this one. i agree with you...

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


[spam] I can exclusively reveal he'll be recycling it at least one more time for the next (food-themed) issue of Movement. [/spam]

10:49 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Ash -

That last line, like a lot of the rest of the post, was meant to be an attempt double irony, whatever that is ;) I know the charge goes around, but I think it’s unfair on the Pharisees, who did a terrific job, by all accounts, in making the sacred a presence in every part of ’mundane’ life - ie. Outside the conventional place of worship and received channels. So the comparison’s good, if you'd been nice and thrown it ;P though I’m gratified to see you concur on the content.

Robert -

Thanks for the little preview of Movement, always good. I must try and track down a copy, or maybe actually finally get around to joining SCM (let's get that plug in for you!)

12:32 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

Another thing that keeps getting mentioned in my medieval lectures! Table fellowship! We keep being reminded just how important sharing meals is in the life of Christ, the Acts of the Apostles and in the Eucharist since then.

I still love the idea you had many moons ago, to get everyone from Talkback together for a proper Acts-style communion (i.e. a glass of wine and chunky slice of bread each!).

7:49 PM  

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